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We will use your data for the purposes of your enquiry. If you would like to know more about how we use your data, please visit our Privacy Notice.
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Buying process

A step-by-step guide to buying a London property
Made in Chelsea, in 1856 With over 160 years’ experience matching people and property throughout London, we’re not only one of London’s longest established agents, but also one of the most prevalent.
The best in the business Underpinned by a culture built on energy, agility, professionalism and knowledge, our local teams live and breathe our values. That means we go to great lengths to get the best results for our clients.
Local know-how, better results Our clients benefit from better results because we intimately understand - and are proud to be a part of - the communities in which we operate.

Buying a new home is one of the most exciting stages of your life. It can, however, also be one of the most stressful. Matching people with property is in our blood, so it’s in our nature to try and make the process as smooth as possible. This guide will give you a comprehensive overview of the buying process, from identifying your desired location to the exciting moving-in day.

Set your budget

Before you can do anything, you need to know how much you are able to spend on a property.  If you’re buying in cash, then finalise how much you have and if you require a mortgage, calculate the amount you are able and willing to borrow. Don’t forget that mortgage lenders require a deposit, usually between 5% and 10%.

There are a number of online calculators that can provide guidance on affordability – we recommend this one from the Money Saving Expert.

Identify your location and requirements

Now you know what you can spend, you need to contact your nearest Marsh & Parsons office, who will put you in touch with the most suitable agent for the area you’re looking in. They will want to meet you and get to know more about you, so invest some time and think about the following:

  • Which areas would you consider buying in?
  • Are there other areas you would consider but don’t know so well?
  • What kind of property are you looking for?
  • What are the “must-haves” and “don’t wants”?
  • How much are you prepared to spend to get what you want?
  • When do you want to have moved by?
  • Do you need to sell, and if so, is your property on the market yet?
  • Do you know how much you can borrow, and if so, is your finance organised?

Finding your dream home is about reaching that perfect balance between what you want, what you can afford and what is available. Once you’ve thought about the above and met with your agent, you’ll be equipped to start looking at properties.

Appoint a property solicitor or conveyancer

When buying a property there is a large range of legal documents and procedures involved, including Land Registry and building regulations. In order to make the process as smooth as possible, you will need a reliable property solicitor or conveyancer to take care of the details for you.

Ideally, you should instruct a solicitor prior to making an offer so that negotiations can get underway as soon as it’s accepted. Not only does this show the seller that you are proactive and a serious buyer, but also means you already have an established relationship with your solicitor.

A fully qualified, reputable conveyancing solicitor in London usually charges a fixed fee between £750 and £1,250, depending on their seniority and experience. Additional legal work may be applicable depending on the property you are purchasing, which will be an extra charge.

Securing an ‘Agreement in Principle’

Before you can make an offer on a property, it’s best to acquire a decision in principle (DIP), also known as an Agreement in Principle (AIP). This is a written estimate from your chosen lender confirming what they might be prepared to lend you; this is usually valid for 90 days.

Whilst this is not a necessity, a DIP helps you determine what you can borrow and gives you more credibility with estate agents and vendors. Credit checks are conducted by lenders during this process, so be careful not to negatively affect your credit rating by doing this more than once. A mortgage advisor will be able to explain this to you in more detail.

Start your property search

So now you have your criteria and solicitor, the exciting part begins. 90% of property searches start on Rightmove, so there’s a good place to begin. Research what is available within your budget and then register your search with local high street agents.

See as much as you can! However if you find the perfect property early on in your search, don’t delay. If you like it, the probability is that someone else will as well!

Found the one?

When you find a suitable property, consult your agent about how to proceed. An offer is about more than just money; you will be asked to provide details of:

  • Your buying position
  • Proposed timeframes
  • Any inclusions (curtains, carpets, etc)
  • How you propose to fund the purchase

The seller will request this information as it may aid them in their decision making.

Making, negotiating and agreeing an offer

The market value of a property is based on the size, condition and the area it is located in. You can offer above or below the asking price and the seller is almost always open to negotiation.

After a price has been agreed between both parties, the property will need to be valued by an independent surveyor who will give a detailed inspection of the property’s condition. This entitles the buyer to find out whether the property is structurally sound and more importantly, whether they think the house is worth more, less or equal to what it has been sold for.

The decision of a house survey can throw a mortgage application into turmoil but are there to also protect a potential buyer. The price of a survey typically ranges between £300 – £1000 and most surveyors provide up to three different types of report. The most popular is a home buyers report, which costs around £400 and gives a detailed analysis about the condition of the property that usually warrants enough satisfaction for both the buyer and the solicitors.

Once you’ve made your offer and it has been accepted, the seller’s estate agent will confirm the accepted offer in writing – this is called the Memorandum of Sale. You can then decide if you want exclusivity – meaning the property will be removed from the market, and no more buyers shown round.

Formally applying for a mortgage

Once you’ve applied to your lender for the mortgage, they will inform you which documents you need to prepare and take you through the application process.

There are lots of things to think about when looking for a mortgage, including the size of your deposit, the amount that you’ll need to borrow, what your monthly repayments will be, and over how many years you want to pay it off.

You’ll receive your mortgage offer next, and then you can organise buildings and life insurance.

Paperwork and Exchanging Contracts

The wait is almost over. One of the last steps of the process is exchanging contracts which legally binds you and the seller to the terms of the sale of the property. This means both parties agree to the information provided in the contracts and requires a signature from both the buyer, seller and also a witness.

After exchanging the contracts, the solicitor will require your deposit, which is usually sent by bank transfer. Once the contracts have been signed and the deposit has been sent, you are unable to back out so take extra care when reading through your contract and do not hesitate to raise any concerns.

There are roughly seven stages, which your Marsh & Parsons agent will look after, and talk you through at every step:

  1. Contents and Fittings Protocol Forms
  2. Property Information Forms
  3. Client Care Letter
  4. Identity Checks (AML)
  5. Contract Pack
  6. Enquiries
  7. Exchange

Exchanging Contracts

You’ll receive your mortgage offer next, and then you can organise buildings and life insurance. After all the legal work is finished, your conveyancer will exchange yours and the seller’s contracts, pay your deposit, and agree a completion date.

Tip: Be sure to organise household insurance for the day you exchange – don’t wait until completion.  

Final completion and moving in

Completion day is by far the most exciting day of the process. The funds for your property will now be released from your solicitor to the sellers’ solicitor and you are ready to collect the keys and move in!

A few days later you’ll need to pay your first mortgage payment, but your lender will take you through this process.

Why buy with us?

  • Over 160 years’ experience matching buyers to their ideal London properties
  • One point of contact, hundreds of properties for sale across London
  • People with wonderful properties – a team with experience, energy and excellence
  • Viewings and appointments at times that suit your schedule
  • Award-winning customer service every step of the way

Find your local office

All offices

London area guides

Where to buy your dream property

Find out more

First-time buyers

Guidance for getting on the London property ladder

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Stamp duty

Including who has to pay what, and how to pay stamp duty

Find out more

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